Ten Phenomena That the Scientific Community Can’t Explain
. . .Through the development and achievements of modern science, mankind has increasingly come to believe that science holds the power to give an explanation for every existing thing on our planet and in our universe.
But let us remember that although many phenomena in the world do have scientific explanations, not all phenomena can be explained by today’s scientific knowledge.
For instance, science has not yet given a definite answer regarding the process by which the universe was originally formed. Nor can science explain the formation of religious beliefs. Stepping into the realm of the supernatural, there are mysterious manifestations that have not been given plausible scientific explanations because the scientific method cannot be applied to measure or study such phenomena.
Let us take a look at some of these unexplained phenomena and remind ourselves that nature is a wonder in itself and that many things still remain mysteries.
1. The Placebo Effect
The placebo effect has been a medical enigma that has touched upon the mind’s influence on physical health and healing. It was found that patients believing to have been given an effective medicine could be healed even if they were only given sugar pills. This finding has led to research employing double-blind trials to avoid having the expectations of both experimenters and participants affect the results.
Unfortunately, over the years, the effectiveness and measurability of the placebo effect has been deemed by science as not reliable. This may be due to the limitations of the scientific method. Nevertheless, there are many cases of humans’ self-healing, which sometimes even surpass medical means available for healing the physical body.
2. The Sixth Sense
The five senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell help us explore our physical world. There is also a sixth sense, an inner power of perception known as intuition. The word intuition is from the Latin word “intueri,” which means ‘to look within.” Intuition is the ability to know and understand without the use of logical reasoning or analysis, and it is common to all people in varying degrees of acuity.
IIntuition is popularly referred to as a “hunch” or “gut feeling,” an inner knowing about something or some situation without prior knowledge. According to the 2006 PRWeek/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey, 62 percent of CEOs are more likely to make business decisions based on their intuition than on data analysis.
A 2007 study published in Current Biology also found that participants, when given no time to look and having to rely on intuition, are more accurate in picking out an odd symbol among over 650 identical ones than when given 1.5 seconds to look at the symbols.
Ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi once said, “The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.” Albert Einstein also said, “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
But where does intuition come from? Studies of the human brain point to the pineal gland as a possible answer to this mystery. René Descartes (1596–1650), the father of modern philosophy, called the pineal gland the “seat of the soul.” Ancient Eastern thought considers intuition to be in the region of the pineal gland and believes it can receive illumination from the soul in the form of knowledge and ideas.
3. Near Death Experience
There have been many reports of various strange experiences that come to people close to death, such as passing through a tunnel into a bright light, meeting up with beloved ones, and having a calm, serene feeling.
The most notable was the experience of Dr. George Rodonaia, whose “clinical near death experience” in 1976 was the most extensive case ever recorded. The experience transformed Rodonaia, who was an atheist before his experience and thereafter became an ordained priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. His experience hints to us that there is another world beyond this human physical world.
Although people have truly gone through these experiences, science has not been able to provide an explanation for the near death experience phenomenon. Some scientists try to suggest that these near death experiences can be explained as a result of hallucinations from an injured brain. But brain injury is not always the case, so no concrete scientific theory is able to offer either explanations or reasons for why people have had these experiences and why they are often life-changing.
4. Unidentified Flying Objects
Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) is a term coined by the United States Air Force in 1952 to classify objects that could not be identified by experts after investigation. In popular culture, the concept of UFO is usually taken to mean a spaceship flown by aliens.
UFOs have been sighted and recorded as early as the Song dynasty in China. In the 11th century, scholar and military general Shen Kuo (1031–1095) wrote in his book “Dream Pool Essays” (1088) about a flying pearl-shaped object with a blinding interior light that could move at incredible speed.
Kenneth Arnold, an American businessman, reported seeing nine objects with brilliant light flying near Mount Rainier in Washington state in 1947. Arnold described the objects as “flat like a pie pan” saucer-shaped disks. His account received significant media attention and drew great public interest.
Since then, UFO sightings have increased exponentially. The UFO phenomenon has been studied by both government and independent investigators worldwide. Dr. Josef Allen Hynek (1910–1986) worked for the United States Air force to investigate UFO sightings. At first, Hynek was highly critical, but after examining hundreds of UFO reports over three decades, his opinion changed.
In the later years of his career, Hynek became vocal in expressing his disappointment at the simple manner in which most scientists considered UFOs—unwilling and unyielding to admit the unexplainable.
5. Déjà Vu
Déjà vu, French for “already seen,” is the eerily familiar sensation of having been at a certain place or event before, as it is being encountered for the first time. People may have very strange feelings of familiarity about a vision in front of them as if it has happened before, but they know that it is the first time they have faced such things. Neurophysiology research has tried to explain such experiences as anomalies of memory, or brain pathology, or as side effects of drugs.
A 2008 study by psychologist Anne Cleary explored that déjà vu may have to do with recognition memory. Alternative explanations associate déjà vu with prophecy, past life memories, clairvoyance, or a mystic signpost indicating fulfillment of a predetermined condition on the journey of life. Whatever the explanation, déjà vu is certainly a phenomenon that is universal to the human condition, and its fundamental cause is still a mystery.
References to ghosts in classic literature by authors such as Homer and Dante hint that human experience with paranormal phenomena is longstanding and common. Today, haunted places such as the Whaley House in San Diego are listed as tourist attractions, and claims of ghost sightings are not unusual.
Popular culture is laden with movies about ghosts, yet conventional science steers clear from explaining such phenomena. Only investigators placed on the fringe of the scientific community make efforts to measure the validity of such occurrences.
The existence of ghosts has profound implications regarding dimensions beyond our physical world and the continuance of the human soul after death. Investigators working on this subject hope that one day this mystery will be solved.
7. Unexplained Disappearances
There are numerous strange cases in which people have disappeared without a trace.
For example, in 1937, pilot Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan disappeared with the Lockheed aircraft they were flying. They were approaching Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean when the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca received their message that they were running low on fuel. But further communication was difficult, and the Itasca was unable to determine where the Lockheed was.
Soon after Earhart and Noonan sent the message that they only had half an hour’s fuel and couldn’t see land, communication was lost. They could only have landed on the water, but after years of searching, neither the fliers nor the Lockheed have been found in the ocean.
In cases like this, despite the great efforts of various investigative bodies using the best of their modern scientific techniques, we have failed to find concrete answers as to what happened to people who have mysteriously disappeared.
8. Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle—the area of the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where ships and planes continue to disappear—is one of the great modern mysteries of our planet.
Survivors tell stories of time displacement, navigational instruments going awry, balls of light coming from the sky, sudden and violent changes in weather, and inexplicable walls of fog appearing such as described by Frank Flynn in 1956. He described the fog as an “unknown mass” that drained the engine power after his ship penetrated it.
Bruce Gernon Jr. encountered a type of fog in 1970 that enveloped his plane and mutated into something otherworldly. Over the years, scientists have worked to debunk the Bermuda Triangle mystery by saying there is no mystery. But those who have directly experienced the strange occurrences and lived to tell about it state emphatically that there are things that happened over the seas and skies of the Bermuda Triangle that are beyond logical comprehension.
Bigfoot is one of the most legendary creatures in the study of cryptozoology. Bigfoot, or Sasquatch as it is called in North America’s Pacific Northwest, is also known as the Yeti or Abominable Snowman in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet, and as the Yowie in Australia.
In 1951, mountaineer Eric Shipton photographed a giant footprint in the Himalayas. The photo startled the world and made the story of Bigfoot popular. In 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin shot footage of what they claimed to be Bigfoot. Their world-famous footage has been subject to many attempts to authenticate as well as debunk it.
Anthropologist Grover Krantz examined the Patterson-Gimlin film and concluded that it was genuine footage of an unknown bipedal creature that is very large. Due to the lack of hard physical evidence of Bigfoot, however, conventional science does not accept the claim of its existence. Yet the myth persists as sightings are reported worldwide.
10. The Hum
The phenomenon of a persistent low-frequency humming noise has been reported in numerous places worldwide, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Northern Europe. The sound, not audible to all humans, is known simply as “The Hum” or with the name of the locality where it is heard, such as the Taos Hum (New Mexico), the Kokomo Hum (Indiana), the Bristol Hum (England), and the Largs Hum (Canada).
For those who can perceive it, the sound is often described as the rumbling of a distant diesel engine. It has caused some people extreme distress, with detrimental physical side effects disruptive to normal living.
Governmental bodies worldwide have investigated the source of The Hum. In the United States, the earliest investigations began in the 1960s. In 2003, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom published a report analyzing these low-frequency hums and the impact on complainants. However, conclusive results pinpointing the source of The Hum have been evasive, and the phenomenon of The Hum remains a mystery.